Driving position and dashboard
An unusually small steering wheel was one of the previous 208’s most novel features, and one that has since filtered its way into Peugeot’s other models. The thinking behind it is that, with a view to seeing the instrument display clearly, it’s easier to look over a small wheel than through a larger one. The end result will work for many, but others could find that the top of the wheel obscures some of the dials.
The wheel itself offers plenty of adjustment for reach but is less generous on height adjustment, while the infotainment screen and its shortcut buttons are helpfully angled towards the driver.
One feature worth mentioning is the 3D-effect driver display. Sure, it’s a bit of a gimmick and is of precious little practical use (although Peugeot argues that it enables certain numbers, such as your speed, to appear closer to the driver), but it does give the instrument panel a futuristic, sleek and interesting look that rivals can’t match. It’s standard on Active trim levels and above.
Visibility, parking sensors and cameras
There are no major visibility concerns with the 208. Despite its sleek, sporty profile, your view out of the rear of the car isn’t really compromised and your over-the-shoulder view is good by class standards. There are also decent-sized door mirrors, while bright LED headlights with Smart Beam Assist are standard with top-spec GT Line. These can automatically shape the car’s main beam to avoid dazzling other road users without the need to use dipped beam.
Rear parking sensors are standard on all models, while GT Line trim adds front sensors and a rear-view camera.
Sat nav and infotainment
Entry-level Active models get a 7.0in touchscreen with shortcut buttons on both sides of the screen. A bigger, 10.0in touchscreen is available as an option (it’s standard only on the e208). The system itself is a bit laggy and generally fiddly to operate, but Apple CarPlay and Android Auto do at least come as standard.
If you go for that bigger screen, the touch-sensitive shortcut buttons are moved to sit above the piano key-styled physical buttons that protrude from the dash. While the physical switches are clearly labelled and good to use, the touch-sensitive ones can frustrate; it’s not always obvious when you’ve actually pressed them.
It’s also annoying that the air conditioning controls are hidden within a touchscreen menu – as is the case with all current Peugeot, Citroën and DS models – rather than there being simple physical dials.
The 208’s interior is certainly one of the most strikingly designed of the members of the small car class. Even better news is that it isn’t all just show; there is some seriously good build quality to back it all up.
On the high-specification models we’ve tested, the materials inside are solid and squidgy rather than flimsy and scratchy. It isn’t quite as well screwed together as the Polo – the undisputed class champion for interior quality – but everything you touch has a pleasing denseness to it, and there are precious few weak points to be found.